December 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
Excerpt from Reflections of a Porch Sitter
The most extraordinary events are occurring in my life these days. Wonderful, meaningful, R-E-A-L things. Things that , on the surface, seemingly insignificant to the B-I-G picture, yet underneath, on second consideration, are monumental in scope, value, and truth.
Take today for example. A friend is in the process of moving her older children into an apartment of their own. The apartment is in an old house– towering ceilings, fireplaces in every room, and, of course, that Southern favorite, a wrap-around porch, overlooking a picturesque park.
The move is a typical one, encompassing the whole range of emotions that weave through relationships between parent and child, between old and new, between hellos and goodbyes. It encompasses also the many doubts brought about by the prospect of change.
My friend and I have discussed the move often. We have explored the significance of it– how it will affect the family, the adjustments that will be demanded, the costs-both financial and emotional, the need for it, and finally, the ultimate value of it.
We talked of the joy, the pain, the anticipation, the regrets that this move would call forth. We spoke of the importance of homes as they relate and contribute to family survival. We had many questions but no answers.
But then today, as we sat talking on the porch, the answer literally fell from the sky. A soft chirping interrupted our conversation, and as we looked around to find the source of the noise, a small brown head and two bright eyes peered curiously down upon us from the porch eave above our heads. It was a small baby squirrel, apparently fallen from his nest from one of the oak trees surrounding the house. Unfortunately, he had landed on the roof and had not yet found a way to get down. My friend and I smiled up at the creature, and typical mothers that we are, warned him that roofs were dangerous places. He really should climb down.
Our conversation about plans for the house and yard drew our attention away from the squirrel for several minutes, and we did not notice his skittering slide over the eave. A sickening S-P-L-A-T jerked our attention again in his direction, and we watched in shocked silence as spasms of pain caused its small body to shake and quiver on the hard cement walk where he had fallen.
We thought surely he was dead — so tiny, so hard a fall– but as we slid a shovel underneath the little fellow intending to bury him, he struggled weakly to move away. First, up on one foot, then another. But the effort was too great. He slumped, motionless again. My husband managed to get him moved to the side of the house, where he could die in peace. My friend and I returned to the porch.
“Poor little thing,” we commented, but nothing more.
I felt heartsick, helpless, and angry. Why did things like that have to happen? I saw no purpose, no valid reason. I felt a familiar heaviness bearing down on my heart. This was NOT the way I had planned on feeling this beautiful spring day.
Several minutes passed. I assumed Phil was burying the squirrel, but then he called to us to come around to the side of the house, and there among the grass and leaves was the tiny creature, wobbling unsteadily, but alive.
As we watched, his steps grew stronger, his tail twitched nervously, and he began to move directly towards us. He made soft chirping sounds as he explored our shoes. Such a tiny baby, probably not even a month old.
We watched, fascinated, as he fearlessly explored us, alternately smelling and chirping, walking steadier with each passing moment. He showed no fear in spite of the terror he had experienced, in spite of our towering presence, and our strange smells. He merely reached out to us in TRUST.
Spying what appeared to be two squirrel nests high in the tree in the back yard, we began walking slowly toward them, thinking that perhaps the mother squirrel would spy her baby on the ground. The little fellow followed determinedly right behind. Wherever we were going, he was going too.
Two of the younger children joined us in the backyard. The baby squirrel sniffed and chirped at them just as he had done to us. They seemed as much in awe of this small creature as we were.
We tried to coax him toward the tree, but efforts to get him to climb were futile. We were afraid to actually touch him. Not that the fear was unwarranted, but what a powerful contrast to the show of trust he offered us.
In the end, we had to leave him there among the leaves beneath the tree. We left him alone and helpless, hoping that perhaps when we left, the mother squirrel would find him.
My thoughts have continuously drifted back to that little squirrel all night. It is late now, and I wonder if his mother did find him, if she was able to rescue him. I am left with that vision of bright eyes staring into mine and of that fluffy, twitching tail.
In spite of this lingering sadness, the most extraordinary thing is my sense of awe at having been in the presence of such complete trust. I can tell my friend now that it is not necessary to have all the answers– we just have to have TRUST